Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, It is a typical medicinal plant of India and widely known for its health benefits.its antioxidant properties support the immune and nervous systems and can even be used as an aphrodisiac.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda, which is a traditional form of alternative medicine based on Indian principles of natural healing.
People have used ashwagandha for thousands of years to relieve stress, increase energy levels, and improve focus.
“Ashwagandha” means “horse smell” in Sanskrit, referring to both the smell of the herb and its potential strength-enhancing ability.
Its botanical name is Withania somniferaand is also known by other names, such as “Indian ginseng”.
The ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers native to India and Southeast Asia. Extracts or powder from the root or leaves of the plant are used to treat a number of conditions, including anxiety and fertility issues.
Benefits of Ashwagandha.
It can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Ashwagandha is perhaps best known for its ability to reduce stress. It is classified as an adaptogen, a substance that helps the body deal with stress.
Ashwagandha appears to help control stress mediators such as heat shock proteins (Hsp70), cortisol, and stress-activated protein c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK-1).
It also reduces the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a system in the body that regulates the stress response.
Several studies have shown that ashwagandha supplements can help relieve stress and anxiety.
In a small study of 58 participants, those who took 250 or 600 mg of ashwagandha extract for 8 weeks significantly reduced perceived stress and levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to those who took a placebo.
Additionally, participants who took the ashwagandha supplements experienced significant improvements in sleep quality compared to the placebo group.
Another study in 60 people found that those who took 240 mg of ashwagandha extract daily for 60 days had a significant reduction in anxiety compared to those who received a placebo treatment.
Thus, early research suggests that ashwagandha may be a useful supplement for stress and anxiety.
However, a recent review of studies concluded that there was insufficient evidence to reach consensus on the most appropriate dosage and form of ashwagandha for treating stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders, such as anxiety.
May be beneficial for athletic performance.
Research has shown that ashwagandha may have beneficial effects on athletic performance and may be an attractive supplement for athletes.
An analysis of five studies found that taking ashwagandha significantly increased maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) in healthy adults and athletes.
VO2 max. It is the maximum amount of oxygen a person can use during strenuous activity. It is a measure of the physical condition of the heart and lungs.
Have a VO2 max. Optimum is important for athletes and non-athletes. A VO2 max. low is associated with a higher risk of mortality, while a VO2 max. higher is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
Additionally, ashwagandha can help increase muscle strength.
It can reduce the symptoms of certain mental illnesses.
Some evidence suggests that ashwagandha may help reduce symptoms of other mental illnesses, including depression, in certain populations.
In one study, researchers looked at the effects of ashwagandha in 66 people with schizophrenia who suffered from depression and anxiety.
They found that participants who took 1,000 mg of ashwagandha extract daily for 12 weeks had greater reductions in depression and anxiety than those who took a placebo.
Although some findings suggest that ashwagandha may have antidepressant effects in some people, you should not attempt to use it as a substitute for antidepressant medication.
If you have symptoms of depression, talk to a healthcare professional to get the help or treatment you need.
It can help boost testosterone and increase fertility in men.
Some studies have shown that Ashwagandha supplements benefit male fertility and increase testosterone levels.
In one study, 43 overweight men between the ages of 40 and 70 who suffered from mild fatigue took tablets containing ashwagandha extract or a placebo daily for 8 weeks.
Ashwagandha treatment was associated with an 18% increase in DHEA-S, a sex hormone involved in testosterone production. Participants taking the herb also had a 14.7% increase in testosterone compared to those taking the placebo.
Additionally, a review of four studies found that ashwagandha treatment significantly increased semen concentration, semen volume, and sperm motility in men with low sperm counts.
It also increased sperm concentration and motility in men with normal sperm counts.
However, the researchers concluded that there is currently not enough data to confirm the possible benefits of ashwagandha for male fertility and that more high-quality studies are needed.
It can lower blood sugar levels.
Limited evidence suggests that ashwagandha may have some benefits for people with diabetes or high blood sugar.
A review of 24 studies, including 5 clinical studies in people with diabetes, found that treatment with ashwagandha significantly reduced blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), insulin, blood lipids and markers of oxidative stress.
Certain compounds in ashwagandha, including one called withaferin A (WA), are thought to have potent antidiabetic activity and may help stimulate cells to take up glucose from the bloodstream.
However, research is limited at present and more well-designed studies are needed.
It can reduce inflammation.
Ashwagandha contains compounds, including WA, that can help reduce inflammation in the body.
It can improve brain functions, including memory.
Taking ashwagandha may benefit cognitive function.
A review that included five clinical trials noted that there was preliminary evidence that ashwagandha may improve cognitive functioning in certain populations, including older adults with mild cognitive impairment and people with schizophrenia.
Cognitive functions that may benefit include:
- Executive functioning.
- The reaction time.
- Performance in cognitive tasks.
However, more research is needed before experts can draw firm conclusions.
It can help improve sleep.
Many people take ashwagandha to seek restful sleep, and some evidence suggests it may help with sleep issues.
For example, a study in 50 adults between the ages of 65 and 80 found that taking 600 mg of ashwagandha root daily for 12 weeks significantly improved sleep quality and mental alertness upon waking compared to treatment. by placebo.
Additionally, a review of five high-quality studies found that ashwagandha had a small but significant positive effect on overall sleep quality.
Taking ashwagandha reduced people’s anxiety levels and helped them feel more alert upon waking.
The researchers noted that the results were more pronounced in people with insomnia and in those who took more than 600 mg per day for 8 weeks or more.
Ashwagandha is a safe supplement for most people, although its long-term effects are unknown.
There are different ways to consume Ashwagandha, from capsules found in pharmacies to natural homemade infusions.
The withania somnifera it can be found in capsule form in most pharmacies, many relaxing or sleeping pills are made from this plant, it is easily accessible and you can take a pill daily, but the effects will start to be felt after a few weeks after you start taking it.
The most typical way to consume the herb is through homemade infusions, for which you need to buy the root of the plant from any health food store and boil it for about 15 minutes.
Ashwagandha is known for its powerful flavor and smell, sometimes described as “the aroma of the horse”, which is why it is recommended to combine it with other natural herbs such as thyme, licorice or eucalyptus.
You can also get the powdered plant extract to add to drinks, preferably juices, to mask its bitter taste.
You can take ashwagandha in several ways, both as a single dose and in multiple doses per day. And you can take it with food or on an empty stomach.
It is produced by several supplement manufacturers and sold by various retailers, including health food and vitamin stores.
Ashwagandha dosage recommendations vary. For example, doses of 250 to 1,250 mg per day have been shown to be effective for a variety of conditions. Consult a healthcare practitioner if you are unsure about ashwagandha dosage.
Research results suggest that the effects of ashwagandha are not immediate, so keep in mind that it may take several months before you start noticing its effects.
Ashwagandha side effects.
Some people shouldn’t take it. For example, pregnant women should avoid it as it can lead to pregnancy loss if used in high doses.
Additionally, people with hormone-sensitive prostate cancer and those taking certain medications, such as benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, or barbiturates, should avoid taking ashwagandha.
Some side effects have been reported in people taking ashwagandha supplements, including upper gastrointestinal discomfort, drowsiness, and diarrhea.
Additionally, ashwagandha can affect the thyroid, so people with thyroid conditions should consult a healthcare practitioner before taking it.
Consult your medical specialist before incorporating any major product or change into your diet.